Sonia Gandhi, Rahul, Nandan Nilekani in Congress’ first list for Lok Sabha elections

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New Delhi: Congress president Sonia Gandhi, vice president Rahul Gandhi, Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar, IT expert Nandan Nilekani, cricketer Mohd Kaif and several union ministers figure in Congress’ first list of 194 candidates for Lok Sabha elections released in New Delhi on Saturday.

Party sources said 35 per cent of the candidates are under the age of 50.

Mrs Gandhi and Rahul will seek re-election from Rae Bareli and Amethi. (See the full list here)

The first list includes more than 60 sitting members from Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Assam, West Bengal, Gujarat, Chhattisgarh, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Punjab, Rajasthan, Karnataka and some north eastern states.

Among the union ministers figuring in the list are Sushilkumar Shinde from Sholapur in Maharashtra, Salman Khurshid from Farrukhabad, Sriprakash Jaiswal from Kanpur, Beni Prasad Verma from Gonda, (all in Uttar Prdesh), Kamal Nath from Chhindwara and Jyotiraditya Scindia from Guna in Madhya Pradesh, Adhir Ranjan Chowdhary from Behrampur (West Bengal), Parneet Kaur from Patiala (Punjab), Girija Vyas from Chittorgarh (Rajasthan), K H Muniyappa from Kolar and Mallikarjun Kharge from Gulbarga, (Karnataka).

Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar has been renominated from Sasaram and former IPS officer Nikhil Kumar, who resigned as Kerala Governor just two days ago, was fielded from Aurangabad in Bihar, from where Congress has declared candidates for 10 of the 12 seats it got in alliance with Lalu Prasad’s RJD.

Mohd Kaif is Congress’ candidate from Phulpur, a constituency in Uttar Pradesh once represented by Jawaharlal Nehru, Karuna Shukla is the nominee from Bilaspur in Chhattisgarh while justice Hanumanthappa from Bellary in Karnataka.

Gujarat CLP leader Shankersinh Vaghela has been fielded from Sabarkantha, Union Minister Bharatbhai Solanki from Anand and Tushar Chaudhary from Bardoli while party general secretaries Mukul Wasnik, Gurudas Kamat, AICC Secretary Priya Dutt are among those renominated from their respective seats in Maharashtra.

Bhojpuri films star Ravi Kishen, Odiya actors Aparajita Mohanty and Bijay Mohanty, Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s niece Karuna Shukla and Justice N Y Hanumanthappa are among the nominees.

This is for the first time in several years that Congress has finalized so many candidates for general elections soon after the announcement of the poll schedule.

Bhausaheb Walchaure, a sitting member of Shiv Sena from Shirdi in Maharashtra who joined the Congress last month, has been fielded by the party from the same seat.

The party has reposed its faith in seven-time MP Vilas Muttemwar after some initial dithering to take on former BJP chief Nitin Gadkari from Nagpur in Maharashtra.

Amita Singh, wife of outgoing MP from Sultanpur Sanjay Singh, has been fielded from the seat. Sanjay Singh was recently brought to Rajya Sabha from Assam after reports of his warming up to BJP.

Former AICC Secretary Bhola Pandey, who had lost elections thrice, has been renominated from Salempur. Annu Tandon has been renominated from Unnao and Praveen Singh Aroan from Bareli in UP.

AK Antony committee had recommended early candidate selection so as to give time to the nominees to campaign for the polls.

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